Stephen King’s birthday has just passed and his 75 years on this planet have given us so many amazing original stories and characters. The man has been synonymous with the horror world for almost half a century. He also doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, releasing his recent novel Fairy Tale less than a month ago. With so many incredible stories there were bound to be many adaptations based on them. Here are the 10 best Stephen King Movies.
Do be careful of who you make fun of or mess with because you really never know…Carrie tells the tale of a small-town religious girl with an overbearing mother. Oh yeah, she also has telekinetic powers. Once pushed too far though no one is safe.
Carrie is based on Stephen King’s first published novel and as a cautionary tale, it is indeed effective. Sissy Spacek is great as the titular character offering up a meek yet captivating performance. She comes off as very relatable as a lot of us have at one time or another just wanted to fit in somewhere. The score and cinematography are great, especially during the classic prom scene. A scene that still holds up as being extremely sad yet terrifying. You can tell so much just by the look on Carrie White’s face.
The only thing that I feel does not hold up is a young John Travolta playing the role of antagonist Billy Nolan. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time but nowadays it just seems kind of goofy.
Every 27 years an evil shape-shifting clown named Pennywise comes up from the sewers to harm the children of Derry, Maine. A group of kids band together to face their fears and defeat the evil being once and for all.
Now we all know just how amazing Tim Curry is but 2017’s IT to me is the superior movie. Bill Skarsgard is fantastic as the dancing clown. He balances being menacing and humorous so very well. The highlight of the movie for me is truly the cast of kids. They work off of each other so well and actually seem like kids. Nothing worse than child actors who instead of children, act like robots.
The film was massive upon release and became the top domestic grossing horror movie of all time. It is a shame that the 90’s and 2019’s versions of Chapter 2 fall short for a lot of people, myself included. Maybe it is just harder to care when the gang grows up and becomes adults. Either way, there is no doubt that 2017’s IT will live on as one of King’s best films.
8. The Mist
A mist has mysteriously covered a small town in Maine while a group of people take shelter in a local supermarket. They soon have to work together because there are creatures in the mist who want inside.
Wow…this movie is a trip. It is filled with great creature design and practical effects as well. This is a story that truly makes you think… are we the monsters? If society was really on the brink of falling, would we stand together or turn on each other? Thomas Jane is great as the lead while Marcia Gay Harden is perfect as the religious nut. The movie is truly scary and filled with tension.
It also has one of the craziest endings of all time. One I do not want to ruin for those who haven’t seen it. I will tell you though that the ending is so crazy that it caused me to drop to my knees on the dirty theatre floor in disbelief. An ending that even though different from King’s novel, King himself has strongly approved of it. Definitely check this one out if you haven’t.
7. Pet Sematary
Moving to a new town, Louis Creed and his family discover that a cemetery nearby has the power to bring back the dead. They soon realize that sometimes dead is better.
This movie scared me so much growing up and even though admittingly there are times it can be kind of silly, the themes still hold strong. Losing a loved one can be so traumatizing and most people would do anything to bring that person back. This movie truly preys on those fears in a heartbreaking way. We sympathize with Louis Creed as he loses his son. He knows he won’t come back the same but he just has to try.
The standouts are Fred Gwynne as Jud and Miko Hughes as Gage. I still don’t know how they got a baby to act so well. There is also a character named Zelda who still is the stuff of my nightmares.
After getting into a terrible accident, writer Paul Sheldon is saved by Annie Wilkes who just so happens to be his biggest fan. Things take a turn for the worst because Annie has no intention of letting Paul go until he rewrites the finale of his book to her liking.
This has to be one of King’s most tension-filled movies. We watch while yelling at our screen as we hope Paul can escape the madness that is Annie Wilkes. A truly great psychological thriller that has suspenseful moments in just about every scene.
Kathy Bates plays Annie and even won an Oscar for her portrayal. She can come off as calm and caring and switch to a complete psychopath with such ease.
5. Doctor Sleep
Danny Torrance is all grown up and trying to move on from his past. He meets a young girl named Abra who shares his gift of shine and together they come together to face the True Knot. A cult where the people kill and feed off the shine of others.
This is a great sequel. Full of adventure, action, and scares, director Mike Flanagan did what seemed impossible with this film. He was able to please both book readers and the fans of the original movie by blending both together almost seamlessly.
Rebecca Ferguson as Rose the Hat is excellent. She is captivating as she lures the audience in just to terrify us seconds later. Sequels don’t always get the best rep but this one shines through.
4. The Shining
Jack moves his family into the Overlook hotel as he has become the new caretaker during the winter. Soon, the hauntings of the hotel mixed with cabin fever begin to overtake Jack as his family struggles to stay safe.
What can I say about this one that hasn’t been said already? It is a horror classic that strays so far from King’s book that King himself despises it. Straying so far from the book might not be the worst thing here as it has helped the movie stand on its own for a lot of people. Jack Nicholson gives a great performance as the lead but the true standout is the hotel itself. The cinematography is fantastic especially in the opening shot as we take in the mountains all the way to the Overlook.
Though a slow burn at times, the sense of dread and claustrophobia is always present. Truly a technical triumph. It is no surprise that this film is said to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
3. The Shawshank Redemption
Andy is sentenced to multiple life terms after falsely being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He meets Red and together they form a friendship and experience prison life over the years.
This is not only one of King’s best but also one of the greatest films ever made. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are great as Andy and Red, both giving such uplifting performances. It’s a movie that though dark at times never loses hope. It makes you stop and appreciate life a little bit more. This mixed in with an excellent script makes for a great viewing experience.
2. Stand by Me
After hearing about the death of a peer, four young boys set out on an adventure to look for the dead body with hopes of becoming heroes once they find it.
Stephen King has a way of making characters feel so relatable. On the surface, this is a simple story but deep down it is a statement of what it means to be a child. The four leads are all great but River Phoenix stands out as Chris. His performance really makes you realize that we lost River way too soon as he had so much potential.
We all have certain memories of childhood that can never be reproduced. There are things only friends understand and there are things that only friends can talk about. Stand by Me makes us cherish those moments and people we can’t get back.
1. The Green Mile
Paul has put many men to death but when a mysterious massive supernatural being arrives on the mile accused of murder, Paul and his coworkers begin to question what really happened.
This is my favorite King film without a doubt. It’s my favorite because it embodies everything King does well. Great characters, supernatural elements, and a great story. Everyone is amazing in this. Tom Hanks is a great lead. Michael Clarke Duncan gives the performance of his career as the misunderstood giant. John Coffey is one of the most likable characters that you can’t help but sympathize with.
The characters are fleshed out. The story is beautifully told and even though it is over three hours long, it never feels like it. The movie has made me laugh, smile, and cry with every viewing. To me, it is a masterpiece.
What is your favorite Stephen King movie? Do you like any of his television adaptations? Let us know in the comments.